ACL Week - Saturday (Day 4)
The second day of the festival again had perfect weather. In the mid 80’s with light breezes and occasional cloud cover, it is hard to imagine better weather conditions. We had lots of holes in our schedule for Saturday and it was going to take some luck to fill those in. And there were mixed results.
We started very lucky, checking out Balmorhea, an instrumental band that spends most of its time writing soundtracks. The music was both beautiful and, at times, intense, with exciting arrangements from their unique lineup. With violin, cello, stand up bass, keyboards, drums and guitar (sometimes banjo or electric bass), they created an exciting sound that got the day going.
Linda, Liz and I moved over to the number 2 stage for Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. When last we saw them, they were playing the tent; blowing the roof off, like nobody since Los Lonely Boys back in 2002. The question was, were they ready for the big stage. The answer was unquestionably yes. Coming out in what can only be described as a Tina Turner outfit with a Tina Turner attitude to boot, Grace isn’t a Tina clone. She’s a rocker and she gave life to that old, tired genre we call classic rock. She had the crowd going wild, and not just the fans in the front row who probably got a bit more of a show than the rest of us (she joked that she didn’t realize how high the stage was). Look out world, Grace is just going to keep getting bigger and better.
Crossing the entire field, it was time to check out the Boss’ favorite young band, New Jersey boys, The Gaslight Anthem. They put on a solid set of what is becoming the New Jersey sound (A little Bruce and a little Jesse Malin, a lot of energy). They had a nice crowd singing along. They are a lot louder than Bruce or Jesse, but their desire to speak to the people is the same. This is another band that is coming on strong.
We couldn’t figure out how to fill the biggest hole in our schedule, so off to the football tent we went and watched Alabama lose their hold on the number one ranking. But it was a nice rest, which we would need for what was coming next.
I’ve been waiting to see Gogol Bordello for some time now. I missed them the last time I was here and have been kicking myself ever since. And on this day, I got everything I came for and more. Gogol is best described as gypsy punk. But if you were to pick a band they resemble it would be Flogging Molly. The energy and craziness on stage is the same, if not more so. The crowded was bouncing around, floating people and singing when they were supposed to. They were easily one of the highlights of the festival for me. You get a feel for this in the studio CDs (especially the new one produced by Rick Rubin), but you have to see them to really get the energy they send out. Check them out when they come to your town. You won’t be disappointed.
The crowds were growing and it was time to move on. After some tacos at Maria’s it was off to The Gallery over The Continental Club to see guitar legend Jimmie Vaughan. Jimmie was playing with the Mike Flanigin Trio (can’t remember the drummer’s name) with Mike on organ. Together they put on a potent set of jazz with heavy blues themes. I haven’t been to a jazz show in some time, but they made it sound so good it made me want to get back to the local jazz clubs. The interplay between the three of them made it sound like this was a regular gig for them, but the truth is, they are just that good. The room had a maximum occupancy of 49, so, yes, it was an intimate evening with Jimmie just a few feet in front of me. It was a wonderful way to finish off the evening.